Sunday, January 31, 2016

Former Albertsons #4323 - Orlando, FL (Orange Ave. Downtown)

Albertsons #4323/Walmart Neighborhood Market #3162
2801 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL - The Market At Southside
(Walmart's address is now 2715 S. Orange Ave., for the record)

     Over the last few years, Walmart has really been trying to grow their presence in Florida. Not so much with more supercenters, although they're still built here and there, but with their Neighborhood Markets. Walmart Neighborhood Markets have been popping up all over the place of late. Back in the early days of the concept in the early 2000's, Walmart Neighborhood Markets had a limited presence in the state, confined to mostly select larger population areas. Now, Walmart is trying to get these stores into just about every decent sized town in Florida, especially now that the Florida grocery wars have reduced the playing field to Publix and Walmart as the only dominant players in the game, although #1 Publix still has nearly double the market share that #2 Walmart has in the state. Walmart has also taken advantage of the fall of Albertsons Florida, turning three former Albertsons stores into Neighborhood Markets (including the one we'll be looking at today, and stores #4463 and #4482), with plans to turn stores #4466 and #4357 into Neighborhood Markets as well. However, in the case of this store, I should rephrase something. Walmart didn't just turn this former Albertsons into a Neighborhood Market - they completely flattened it and rebuilt it from scratch.

     Albertsons originally opened on this site in 1978, as a stand alone store built in front of an older shopping center called the Southside Shopping Center, which dates back to 1958, and included a Publix (Store #6) as one of its anchors. Actually, the right side of the old Publix building was located only 100 feet away from the back of the Albertsons building. As the years went on and the population in this area, which is located right on the southern edge of downtown Orlando, grew, the old citrus grove that stood for many years to the south of the Albertsons was torn out in order to expand the plaza. A strip of stores was added onto the right side of the Albertsons building, and a zig-zagging shopping center began to grow further south from the Albertsons building as the 90's began. One of these expansions also included a new Publix to replace the old store that dated back to the 50's. Eventually, the entire complex, including the original 1958 plaza, the Albertsons, and the late 80's/early 90's additions all became a part of united complex called The Market at Southside. The Albertsons here was able to last until Febraury 2009, when it was closed with three other underperforming stores across the state. Despite being located in a very busy area, the store would sit empty until 2012, when Walmart announced they wanted to demolish the old Albertsons in order to build one of their Neighborhood Market stores on the site. Construction on the new Neighborhood Market began in late 2012, and the new Walmart Neighborhood Market opened on June 26, 2013.

     While there isn't anything left to see from this building's days as an Albertsons, I figured I should still get out and get a few pictures.

     Let's go inside the Walmart and take a quick look around: 

     For those of you who keep track of Walmart interior variants, this store has "Project Impact v. 3.0", (or more commonly referred to under it's more fitting name - "Cheap Impact"), Neighborhood Market Edition. The department signs are brown instead of the usual light blue and orange, as seen in typical supercenters (except over in the pharmacy here, which uses the blue supercenter signs). This interior has since been retired in favor of a new interior, a Neighborhood Market variant of Walmart's somewhat classy new "Black Interior 2.0" decor, which looks something like this (and scroll to the left if you click that link for a few more pictures of it)

     Anyway, produce is located in the front right corner of the store, which is located right in front of you as you walk into the store.

     Leaving produce and heading down the main aisle that runs along the right side of the building. This aisle contains the lunch meats, butter, yogurt, and similar items.

     The world's smallest deli/bakery department. The deli counter is only that tiny case under the Prima Della sign, and the bakery was about two tables of bread, cakes, and some other pre-packaged baked goods in the middle of the aisle.

     One of the grocery aisles. It might be a little hard to see, but in typical "Cheap Impact" fashion, one of the numbers on the aisle sign has fallen out (it originally said 7|8, now it's just 7|blank).

     Dairy and the dairy cases in the back of the store.

     Looking down the back wall toward the left side of the store, where the small selection of general merchandise is kept.

     Frozen Foods aisle. Both of the numbers on the sign are still hanging in there...

     And over in the front left corner of the store is the (very busy) pharmacy. Here's is that only example of the Supercenter style blue signage in the store.

     General merchandise aisles run parallel to the front of the store beyond the pharmacy department, and included cosmetics, health and beauty, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet supplies, and a small selection of hardware and seasonal items. I believe there were ten grocery aisles total in this store, plus this section of the store.  

     Looking down the left side wall of the store toward the tiny hardware department. The one thing I have to give Walmart credit for was putting in lots of windows along the front and left sides of this store, letting in all the natural light, which I like. 

     Looking down the back wall of the store from general merchandise, toward the tiny deli/bakery.

     The very busy front end. While the pictures may not look it since I like to get as few people as possible in my pictures, this place was extremely crowded while I was here. It's like there aren't any other grocery options in this neighborhood...

     ...Well, there aren't any other grocery stores around for another good 500 feet. The above image is an overview of the entire Market at Southside complex. The original portion of the complex is the strip of stores behind the old Albertsons facing Michigan St. All the buildings to the south of the Albertsons were added on in the late 80's and into the early 90's, including that Publix at the very bottom, which replaced that very old store behind the Albertsons in 1993. While we're here, we might as well walk over to the Publix and take a quick look at that as well...

Publix #436
2873 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL

     Opened 1993, replacing store #6 in the original portion of the Market at Southside complex. 

     This Publix was also one of the first prototypes of their late 90's design to be used. This store has the open ceiling and entryway setup of late 90's store, but has a rather odd layout that neither the early 90's or late 90's stores use. This model was sparingly used while more of the common early 90's stores continued to be built for the next few years. 

     Let's go inside...

     The entire front end of this store has a very unique feel to it due to the raised ceiling that you see here, and with the large glass tower entryway, which we'll see in a moment.

     The Meat department is located in this strange rounded area in the back right corner of the store. Behind me is the bakery and deli, which I didn't get any pictures of due to the large crowds that were in here too.

     The bustling back aisle, which is home to dairy. Behind me was the seafood counter and an overflow from the meat corner.

     The pharmacy in the front left corner.

     And produce is in the back left corner, similar to the setup of an early 90's store. In the late 90's Publix stores, produce got flipped over to the back right corner (where this store's meat department is), and stayed there until the most recent store design, which moved produce into the center right portion of the store.

     And a look into the big glass entryway from the giant window inside the store as we leave this store.

     And before jumping off into aerial images, here's the road sign at Albertsons' old main entrance. Walmart replaced this as well, effectively eliminating every trace of there ever being an Albertsons here.

     And now for some Bird's Eye aerial images, courtesy of Bing Maps:

Front - It's the old Albertsons! At least we'll get to see the original structure in the aerial imagery. It looks like this was a fairly original Skaggs model store all the way to the end, and probably got remodeled to Blue and Gray Market in the late 80's, but that was about it.

Right side - The place in the bottom left corner with the blue canopy was a Blockbuster, which is now an Applebee's.


Left Side

And a quick aerial of the Publix.

     Now for some historic aerial images courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4323 - 2015

Former Albertsons #4323 - 2013 - Walmart under construction at this time.

Former Albertsons #4323 - 2012 - The original Albertsons building is still standing here, but it wouldn't be for much longer.

Albertsons #4323 - 2006

Albertsons #4323 - 1999

Albertsons #4323 - 1994

Albertsons #4323 - 1980 - The strip of stores to the south of the Albertsons building have yet to be built.

Future Albertsons #4323 - 1969 - Still just a citrus grove at this point.

     To conclude this post, I'll repost these classic screenshots of this Albertsons, which was featured in the top story on WFTV Channel 9 news on May 29, 1981 about some kind of extortion plot involving some of the Albertsons stores in Orlando:

     And this picture is the only image I currently have of Albertsons' 70's interior, which I refer to as "70's Stripes". If you want to watch the entire clip that this store was featured in, you can see that here.

     Other than the aerials and the video from 1981, the only other picture I could find of this store is the one featured in this article about Walmart being interested in this site, but it was taken at a weird angle. And while this article doesn't have any pictures of the original Albertsons building, it does have some interesting pictures of the Walmart Neighborhood Market being built.

     While this may not have been the most exciting former Albertsons in the world since Walmart went to the extent of removing every trace of Albertsons they possibly could, they still can't take away the fact that an Albertsons used to be here, and that it served this area for 31 years before finally giving in to that Publix 500 feet away.

So that's all for now. Until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rare Find: Albertsons #4365 - Jupiter, FL Classic Photo!

     A big thanks to new AFB contributor William S. for sending us this picture! This is a very rare photo of former Albertsons #4365 in Jupiter, FL back when it was still an Albertsons. This store opened in 1987, and closed in the summer of 1990, lasting barely 3 years. Albertsons cited the sudden and early closure of this store as "a real estate mistake". To read more about the history of this store and to see more of how it looks today, you can read the original post from this store here

     William found this picture in the 1988 Jupiter High School Yearbook. He sent a scan of the entire page, which looks to be a page showcasing new construction/new businesses in town. I don't know anything about the places/things seen in the top two pictures, or the bottom left one. The picture of the sign that says "Don't judge a mall by it's cover - we are open!" is a reference to the Jupiter Mall. The Jupiter Mall was a very tiny enclosed mall built in 1980, with Bealls Department Store and what is now an 18 Screen movie theater (currently Cineopolis, but it's changed hands too many times to know the original occupant) as anchors. The Jupiter mall was located across the street from the Albertsons, directly to the north. By the late 80's, the owners of the mall decided to convert it into a more traditional shopping center, which the sign is probably a reference to. (Side note: That information you just read on the Jupiter Mall was courtesy of AFB contributor Graham S., who mentioned that in the comments section of 4365's original post - Thanks!) The Rite Aid you see on the bottom right was also a tenant of the Jupiter Mall...

     ...And it's not too often you see a picture of a live Florida Rite Aid either! Rite Aid entered Florida after purchasing the Florida locations of Kroger's SupeRx chain of drug stores (a separate entity from Kroger's SupeRx Food and Drug stores, which became Florida Choice around the same time). Right Aid bought a total of 187 stores from SupeRx, including the one in the Jupiter Mall, and the stores were converted into Rite Aids in 1987. Rite Aid built a few stores on their own in Florida after the acquisition (all of which were in shopping centers, to the best of my knowledge, but are fairly rare). They also had a distribution center in Melbourne (not sure if it was acquired from SupeRx or if Right Aid built it/purchased the building themselves). Either way, Walgreens and Eckerd proved to be too powerful in Florida for Rite Aid, and in 1995 Rite Aid announced they would be pulling out of Florida completely. The former Jupiter Mall Rite Aid is now a Staples, which expanded into some of the storefronts that used to be next to the original Rite Aid space. 

     Tangents about dead malls and (soon to be dead if Walgreens gets their way) drug store chains aside, I'll wrap up this rather short post with a picture of the front of former Albertsons #4365 from only a few months ago. It looks exactly the same as in the picture from 1988, honestly, just with the minuscule Publix sign where the old Albertsons one once was.

     Thanks for the little trip back in time, William! William has also sent in a few other classic Albertsons photos that will be making their way to the blog in the future. 

Anyway, that's all for now. Until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wegmans is Looking to Enter North Carolina

     Yes, I know this isn't Florida related news. Thanks to the anonymous commentor who left a link to an article in the Raleigh News & Observer about how Wegmans is looking to open their first North Carolina store in a new shopping center that is planned to be developed in the Raleigh suburb of Cary, NC. Why do I bring this up? Well, two things - First, it seems like Wegmans is showing some interest into moving into the Southeast, outside of the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC where their southernmost stores currently are (and again, no, Wegmans is not looking to expand into Florida at this time). I really thought Wegmans would rather be looking into expanding into places like Eastern New York, Western Pennsylvania, and New England, closer to their core store base in the Northeast and filling in some of the gaps in Northeastern regions where they lack stores. And secondly, the main reason why I bring this issue up, is if Wegmans does open this store in Cary, this will mark the very first time where Publix and Wegmans overlap markets - something I've always wanted to see play out. This pairing is interesting, as Publix and Wegmans are pretty similar in some ways. Both chains have extremely loyal followings and fan bases, both are known for their superior customer service and top rankings among supermarket chains for service and quality. However there are some interesting differences between the two. Publix has 1,114 stores in the Southeast, and Wegmans has 88 stores in the Northeast. Publix stores are no larger than 55,000 square feet, and Wegmans stores average 120,000 square feet, with their smallest stores around 70,000 square feet. Wegmans has a huge prepared foods selection and multiple in house restaurants that they're famous for, and have offered for a long time now. Publix's newest stores have improved upon prepared foods offerings (which all of their stores in Central NC would have, as they only began to enter that area in early 2015). I'll stop with all of the comparing and contrasting, but seeing Publix and Wegmans going head to head is something I've wanted to see play out. It's the battle of the Southeast's and the Northeast's favorite supermarket chains. Both have their own characteristics that differentiate themselves from each other, but I think Wegmans is one of the few chains that I feel can give Publix a run for their money, no matter how competitive the market is (and Cary, NC is pretty competitive). Or maybe I'm just the only one who seems to find this interesting.

     To read the article about Wegmans entering North Carolina, you can see that here. Wegmans also has confirmed plans to open stores further south in Virginia in Charlottesville and two around Richmond in 2016, and supposedly Wegmans is looking into opening stores in Raleigh and Durham, NC as well, but any other Wegmans stores in North Carolina outside of the Cary one are not confirmed. 

Anyway, that's all for now. Until the next time.

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Former Albertsons #4411 - Kissimmee, FL (East)

Albertsons #4411/Super Saver #1531
1012 Buenaventura Boulevard, Kissimmee, FL - Town & Country

     This store was one of the most unique Albertsons stores to ever be built in Florida, at least from an exterior standpoint. I have never seen another Albertsons that looked like this in Florida, and I'm not sure if this model was ever used in other parts of the country. Today on AFB, we'll take a look at the one and only Albertsons Circle Model store that may have ever been built. Thankfully, Ross Dress for Less preserved the unique Albertsons exterior after they moved in, so we can all have the chance to take a look at this Albertsons oddity.

     This Albertsons first opened in 1993, the same year that Osceola County's other Albertsons store (#4410) also opened further to the west of here near downtown Kissimmee, although this store was newer by a few months. The reason for this store's mysteriously unique exterior was that it was built at the end of Albertsons' Superstore Model era, right at the time Albertsons began rolling out the new Pre-Plaza Model stores. While I categorize this store as it's own unique Albertsons store model, I believe it may have been nothing more than a really fancy looking experimental Pre-Plaza store. However, just about every Pre-Plaza Albertsons has a rectangular canopy over the entrance (with the exception of the much later built Pre-Plaza stores, which began to morph into the Plaza model stores). So for that reason, I gave this store a category of it's own. And I think it's well deserved.  

     While this store may have looked very fancy from the outside, that wasn't enough to prevent sales from slipping here as the 2000's began to roll in. Due to that, Albertsons marked this store and 10 other underperforming Albertsons Florida stores to be converted into their new Super Saver discount supermarket format. So in 2005, this store was converted to the new Super Saver format, making this the world's fanciest looking discount grocery store. Super Saver was like an Aldi or Save-A-Lot, however it was much bigger. Super Saver took up the entire 50,000+ square foot former Albertsons spaces (most typical discount grocery stores rarely go past 20,000 square feet). Super Saver included a large selection of items, which were stocked on large Sam's Club style metal rack shelving units, which replaced Albertsons traditional style shelves. The decor used green and yellow signage in a fairly limited manner, and if I remember correctly, the department signs were just canvas banners hung on the walls. Like most other discount grocery brands, Super Saver removed the full service departments in favor of a selection of pre-made/pre-packaged goods. I believe they also kept the in store pharmacies from Albertsons. And to make things interesting, Super Saver's house brand didn't use Albertsons branded packaging - it used Acme's! (I clearly remember being in a Super Saver and seeing the Acme brand labels, which I thought was the strangest thing back then). The only reason Albertsons got the Super Saver name to begin with was because of their purchase of Acme, who used to own the Super Saver name for their own discount division back in the 70's in the Northeast. I guess it was a fitting enough tribute to Super Saver's past. Anyway, while Super Saver seemed to be off to a good enough start, the brand just wasn't meant to be. When Albertsons was split up in 2006, Cerberus got control of all of the fairly new Super Saver stores, and quickly put and end to just about all of them before the end of 2006, citing that they wanted no part in operating the fledgling brand. After Cerberus pulled the plug on Super Saver, they included this store as one of the 46 Albertsons stores nationwide that they sold to Ross Stores in late 2006. By early 2007, Ross had split this building into one of their namesake stores, which takes up the left portion of the building and uses Albertsons' original entrance, and occupied the right side of the building with their lower price brand dd's Discounts, which had its entrance carved out of the right part of the building.  

     This building really looks much newer than 1993 built, in my opinion.

     Under the canopy, heading toward the former main entrance into Albertsons to see what's behind this unique facade.

     Definitely not a normal Pre-Plaza design by any means. Under the big circular front canopy is this large open area, with the ceiling a good 20-25 feet up there. I actually like this design.

     I don't know if they intentionally made the design on the ceiling look like a sun with rays, or if it just happened that way. It seems fitting though, especially with the new yellow paint.

      As would be expected, Ross converted this store into their standard store prototype template. I believe the entryway at this store would have looked like this when Albertsons was here. 

     Also as typical with these Albertsons to Ross conversions, no traces of anything from Albertsons inside. This Albertsons would have been built with the Blue and Gray Market interior, and more than likely had that interior all the way until the Super Saver conversion in 2005. This is the view after walking in through Ross's main entrance.   

     Looking down the right side wall that splits Ross from dd's. 

     Looking toward Ross's front end. If this store had the normal Albertsons Pre-Plaza layout, this would have been looking from the grocery aisles toward the Pharmacy.

     Ross's main left aisle. I'm standing near where the Seafood counter originally was. 

      Looking toward the front of the store along the left side wall. 

     Time to head back out and work our way next door...

     One last look up into the circular facade before walking over to dd's...

     As mentioned earlier, dd's Discounts is located in the right half of the former Albertsons building. dd's Discounts was launched by Ross Stores in 2004 as a lower price alternative to the conventional Ross Dress for Less stores (which I though were already supposed to be off-price clothing/home accessories stores). Many times, dd's stores are located right next to or very close to an existing Ross store, although I've seen some exceptions to this. dd's currently has 108 locations in 8 states, and makes up only about 1/10 of Ross Stores' store base. 

     Anyway, time to take a quick look inside... 

     Again, not much left from Albertsons in here either. Unlike with the Albertsons to Ross conversions, I have seen some Albertsons to dd's conversions where the interior of the dd's store kept some noticeable features from the building's Albertsons days. Unfortunately that wasn't the case here, although this side of the building still has more of an Albertsons feel to it.  

     Looking down the right side wall of the dd's store. If you look at the ceiling in here, and at the ceiling of the next door Ross we just looked at, they have surveillance cameras everywhere in these two stores. There were also uniformed security guards standing at the front entrance of both stores, who also acted as greeters. These two stores must have a really big shoplifting issue.  

     Some matching auto floormats to go with your new outfit, in cheetah print too.

     Looking across dd's from right to left. I'm standing in the back of what was Albertsons' produce department, near the deli.

     The back wall of the store. dd's fitting rooms are to the right where that wall dips in. Just past here a little bit would have began Albertsons' meat cases lining this wall. 

     Looking toward the front of the store from the back. Here are a few more random views from inside dd's:

     Time to head back outside to take a quick look at the former liquor store:

     Located over on the left side of the building, attached to Ross, is the former Albertsons Liquor store. A rent to own place now takes up this space.

     The new occupants changed the entryway set up from what Albertsons typically used.

     So, that's just about it regarding the Albertsons store here. Although this plaza lost its main grocery anchor in 2006 to Ross and dd's, in 2010, this plaza gained a new grocery store - Aldi - built on an outlot near the end of the strip of stores that attach to the right side of the old Albertsons building. Here's a picture of the Aldi:

     Typical late 2000's, early 2010's Aldi store.

     Now for some Bird's Eye aerials, courtesy of Bing Maps:


Right Side


Left Side

And now some historic aerial images, courtesy of Google Earth and

Former Albertsons #4411 - 2015 - This gives an overview of the entire plaza. The old Albertsons is the largest building, with the curved facade clearly visible. Aldi is the white roofed building near the top of the image. This plaza actually bumps against the Osceola and Orange County line, which makes for the northern property boundary of the plaza.

Former Albertsons #4411 - 2010

Former Albertsons #4411 - 2006 - The building is empty now that Super Saver has closed, and Ross and dd's have yet yo move in.

Albertsons #4411 - 2003

Albertsons #4411 - 1999

Albertsons #4411 - 1994 - Only a few months old at this point.

Future Albertsons #4411 - 1980 - Not only is the Albertsons yet to be built, but so was the intersection this store was built at, and also the entire neighborhood!

     While the East Kissimmee Albertsons marked a grand new entrance into a new era of Albertsons store design, the store never really lived up to its expectations. I really believe that the Super Saver stores had potential. While Cerberus cut the Super Saver stores rather prematurely because they didn't want to deal with them (except for two random ones in Utah that may or may not be still in business - I'm not sure what happened to those), I think Albertsons should try again to revive that brand. There are areas where it could do very well, and discount grocery stores are becoming more popular with shoppers, and that industry is growing. Aldi and Save-A-Lot are expanding like crazy (especially in Florida), Kroger keeps experimenting with discount brands in many markets, and Aldi's largest discount grocery rival from their home country of Germany, Lidl, has announced that they want to begin a push into the United States by 2018, beginning with stores in the Washington, DC area and potentially going national from there. 

Well, that's all I have for now. So, until the next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger